Sermon 2933. Dead, Yet Alive

(No. 2933)




"Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let notsin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof." Romans 6:11,12.

How remarkably interwoven and intertwisted are the duties of Believers and their privileges! Indeed, it is often very difficultto say which is a privilege and which is a duty, for that which is a duty under one aspect is a privilege under another aspect-andthat which is evidently a privilege may involve sin if it is not enjoyed and, therefore, it has something of duty about it.I think there should be no dividing asunder the duties and privileges which God has manifestly joined together-and that weshould count it our highest privilege to do His will in every duty which He has enjoined upon us.

Equally remarkable is it how closely the privileges and duties of the Christian life are connected with the Person of theLord Jesus Christ. Because we are one with Him, therefore are we beloved of the Father, therefore are we redeemed from deathand Hell, therefore are we separated from the world, therefore are we dead to sin, therefore do we live unto the Lord andtherefore do we confidently expect a final triumph over all our adversaries until the last enemy of all shall be put underour feet! You get nothing, dear Brother or Sister in Christ, except as you get it through Christ! Apart from Him you wouldbe miserable, poor, blind and naked-as you were until you came to Him. But in union with Him you are rich to all the intentsof bliss. All things are yours because you are Christ's and while the Father views you as one with Christ, He will bless you-andwhile you view yourself as one with Christ, you will be conscious of the blessing and, at the same time, will be led to devoteyourself more completely to the pursuit of holiness and the fear of God.

I have been specially praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in handling a subject which belongs not so much to the worshippersin the outer court, where we preach the Gospel to all, as to those in the inner court where we speak only to those who are,we trust, already saved. If I have the gracious guidance of the Spirit of God, my words will drop as dew upon the hearts ofthose who are living unto God-and they will be refreshed and encouraged. But I could not bear the thought that my sermon shouldhave no bearing whatever upon those who are, at present, outside the visible fold of Christ. Therefore, at the very outsetof my discourse, I let you all know that I am preaching now especially to the Lord's own people. Judge you yourselves, therefore,as to whether you belong to that privileged company or not! And if you have not believed in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,know that you have no share in the privileges of the Covenant of Grace. And while I am preaching to Believers, sit down andsigh from your inmost heart over the sad fact that you are an alien from the commonwealth of Israel! If the Lord, by His graciousSpirit, will lead you to do so, He will hear that sorrowful sigh of yours and I trust that you will be led, sighing and crying,to the Savior's feet to believe in Him to the salvation of your never-dying soul! Then will you enter at once into all theprivileges which belong to the children of God-those privileges about which I am now to speak.

The two verses which form my text seem to me to set before us, first, a great Truth of God-a great fact which is to be thesubject of our reckoning-"Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through JesusChrist our Lord." And, secondly, a great lesson to be put into practice. "Let not sin therefore"-for the argument is carriedon from the former verse-"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof."

I. What is the meaning of the first verse? What is THE GREAT TRUTH which is taught to us by the Holy Spirit? It is this-"Reckonyou also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

It is quite certain that God never asks Believers to reckon anything to be true which is not true, for to reckon a thing tobe what it is not would be to build upon a false basis and, in fact, to argue upon that which is false. This would not beconsistent with the Character of God, Himself, nor with the nature of the Gospel, which is, essentially, a proclamation ofthe Truths of God. There are no suppositions and imaginations in the Gospel-it tells of positive sin, positive punishment,positive substitution and positive forgiveness-for God would not have His people reckon upon anything which is not absolutelytrue. Therefore the text does not mean that you are to reckon that there is no sin in you, but that you are "dead indeed untosin." You are not to reckon that which is lie-that which God the Holy Spirit intends you to reckon is a matter of positive,undoubted fact. If you read the context, you will see what that matter of fact is.

It is, first, that every Believer is truly dead to sin because Christ has died to sin. The Lord Jesus Christ is our CovenantHead. And what He did, He did in the place of His people-He did it all representatively on their behalf so that what He did,they virtually did through Him as their Representative. Always remember that the federal principle has been adopted by Godin His dealings with the human race from the very beginning. We were all, representatively, in Adam and, therefore, Adam'ssin brought us all into transgression and condemnation so that we have all become partakers in the result of Adam's one sin.It was not actually ours, but it became ours by imputation and it brought upon us all its terrible consequences because Adamwas our federal head. In the same way, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Federal Head and Representative of His people-and whatHe has done, He has done on their behalf and it is reckoned as though they had done it themselves. Beloved, it was due fromus that, having broken God's Law, we should endure the punishment resulting from our disobedience. That punishment was death,for, "the soul that sins, it shall die." There must, therefore, be passed upon us, if we are ever to be clear at God's JudgmentBar, a sentence that shall be an adequate punishment for sin. That sentence is so overwhelming and so dreadful that nothingcan describe it but the term, death Can that ever happen to us? It has happened to us! We who believe in Jesus Christ havebeen confronted with our sins, accused of them, condemned for them and punished for them! The full penalty, or that whichwas tantamount thereunto, has them exacted from us. We have died the death that was sin's due reward!

"But," someone asks, "how is that?" I answer that the Apostle tells us in this Chapter that we have done it, representatively,in the Person of Jesus Christ, our great Federal Head, Surety and Substitute. Can you grasp the great Truth of God that whateverwas due from us to God's Justice has been fully paid by Christ? Whatever of suffering was necessary as the result of sin fromthe penal side of the question has been already endured by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior! Therefore Christ took our sinupon Him, though in Him was no sin of His own, and He died unto sin, bearing the penalty of it. As the inevitable consequenceof His Sacrifice upon the Cross, He is clear from the sin that was laid upon Him and so are all His people in whose placeHe suffered! Toplady truly sang-

"Complete Atonement You have made,

And to the utmost farthing paid

Whatever Your people owed-

Nor can His wrath on me take place,

If sheltered in Your righteousness

And sprinkled with Your blood!

If You have my discharge procured

And freely in my place endured

The whole of wrath Divine-

Payment God cannot twice demand-

First at my bleeding Surety's hand

And then again at mine."

I may make this Truth of God plainer by a comparison which is impossible in the case of men, but which may illustrate thepoint we are now considering. Suppose that a man has been found guilty of a crime which is a capital offense according tothe law of his country? The only way of dealing with him, in justice, is that he should endure the penalty for his offense.Suppose the sentence to have been carried out, the man has been put to death and has been buried? But after that, he has risenagain-can the law touch him now? Can any charge be laid against him? Can he be brought,

a second time, before the tribunal? Assuredly not! The same justice which brought him to the bar, before, and punished him,now stands up and declares that he cannot be touched again, for how shall he be twice charged, twice tried and twice put todeath for the same offense? This cannot happen, as I have said, among men-but it has happened in the case of our Lord andSavior Jesus Christ! For all His people, He has borne the death penalty and He has risen from the dead-and they have bornethe death penalty in Him and risen from the dead in Him. Therefore let them rejoice who, in the Person of their Redeemer,they are dead by sin and dead for sin-for such is the meaning of this passage. I wish that all of you who believe in Jesuscould get a firm hold of this blessed Truth of God, for, if you do, it will makes your heart dance for joy! We are emancipatedbecause our ransom price has been fully paid! We are set free from the Law, not by the Law waiving the penalty due to oursin, for the penalty has been endured in the Person of One who had the right to endure it, for He was His people's Representative!And what He endured on their behalf is reckoned as though they had personally endured it, so that each one of them can say,with Toplady-

"Turn then, my soul, unto your rest!

The merits of your great High Priest

Have bought your liberty!

Trust in His efficacious blood,

Nor fear your banishment from God,

Since Jesus died for thee."

Further, the Apostle says that we are to reckon ourselves "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ ourLord." This is the other side of the great Truth which is implied in our union to Christ-that every Believer is truly aliveunto God because Christ is alive unto God! We know that Christ is alive unto God-"Knowing that Christ being raised from thedead dies no more"-and we also know that the new life of which the Apostle is here writing is a life that we share with ourLord and Savior Jesus Christ because of our union to Him. Christ died and was laid in the grave because He was our Suretyand Substitute. Our great debt of sin was laid to His account, but His death discharged all our liabilities. What then? Thereceipt for our debt-the token that our sin had been forever put away-was that Christ should come out of the prison of thegrave. As one of our rhymesters says-

"If Jesus had not paid the debt,

He never had been at freedom set." He "died for our sins," but He also "rose again for our justification." When the brightangel flew from Heaven and rolled away the stone from the mouth of the sepulcher and Jesus unwrapped the cerements of Histomb and came forth in the glory of His Resurrection-Life, all for whom He died and rose again were acknowledged as justifiedbefore God through His righteousness and cleansed from all sin by His blood! And now, Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,this is our joy-that we are alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

A little while ago we were dead unto God, for the sentence which He had pronounced upon us made us virtually dead unto Him.We were under condemnation, "the children of wrath, even as others," but now that Jesus Christ has risen from the grave weare no longer dead unto God, but we are alive unto Him-and He looks upon us as those who have been delivered from the sentenceof spiritual death and who cannot again come under that penalty, since Christ, who stood and suffered in our place, has foreverput away from us, not only our guilt, but also all its dread consequences-

"We were lost, but we are found,

Dead, but now alive are we!

We were sore in bondage bound,

But our Jesus sets us free!

Therefore will we sing His praise

Who His lost ones has restored,

Hearts and voices both shall raise

Hallelujahs to the Lord!"

Further than that, as the text says, "Likewise," the very word here used bids us run the parallel as the Apostle has done.He says, "Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over Him." See, then, what this meansin reference to us who have believed in Him. Jesus Christ will not die twice. The sin of His people that was laid upon Him,brought Him down to the grave. But there He buried it and He rose again, no longer bearing the sin for

which He had paid the penalty. And that sin cannot be laid upon Him a second time and, therefore, He shall never again needto be crucified. Beloved, do you not see that if your sin was really laid upon Christ and you died unto sin in Christ, youcan never have that sin laid to your charge again under any circumstances whatever, unless Christ can die again? By one sufficientpunishment our offense has been put away even from the sight of God-can that offense, then, be brought against us and laidto our charge a second time? No, verily, for if it could, it would be necessary that our Great Substitute should bleed anddie a second time! But, as that cannot be, the sin of the Believer can never again be imputed to him and can never again risein judgment against him! While Christ, the ever-blessed Savior, continues to live, His people must also continue to live!What a glorious Truth this is! I, then, if I am a Believer in Christ, have, through my union to Him, borne the penalty ofsin! I have died in Christ and the life that I now live before the living God is a life that is uncondemned and uncondemnableand which can never expire because sin can never be laid to its charge again!

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, how I wish that you could get a firm grip of this blessed Truth of God, so that youcould enjoy it to the fullest in your own soul! It is not always easy to realize your union with Christ-to see how He takesyour place and you take His-to mark how He is bruised for your iniquities and how the chastisement of your peace is laid uponHim-and that, in consequence-you take His place as accepted and beloved by the Father, that you are raised from the dead andhonored even to share His Glory in the highest Heavens, for He has gone up there as the Representative of all His people andyou are also raised up together with Him and made to sit with Him in the Heavenly places! And as He is to come again, in allthe Glory of the Father, to subdue all things unto Himself, so are you to reign with Him, for He has said, "Where I am, thereshall also My servant be." And, "to him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me on My Throne, even as I also overcame,and am set down with My Father on His Throne." What a glorious Truth this is, that all Believers are dead, raised, living,exalted and glorified in Christ Jesus!

Now, Beloved, having given you that meaning of the passage-and I am persuaded that it is its true meaning and that no otherwill bear examination-I want to warn you against the interpretation that some have tried to put upon the Apostle's words.They say that they are dead to sin and alive unto God. And they tell us, perhaps, not in so many words-that now they do notsin-they live in a state of perpetual sanctity and are no more affected by sin than a dead man would be affected by that whichgoes on in the house wherein his corpse is lying. These people say that their life now is one, if not of absolute holiness,yet, in a certain sense, of perfect holiness! I conceive this to be one of the most dangerous delusions of the present age-apparentlyspecious and supportable by Scripture, but, in reality, without any solid foundation and full of a thousand dangers! Thereare two ways by which a man can persuade himself that he does not sin. The first is the Antinomian method by which he saysthat he is not under the Lawand that, therefore, whatever he does is not sinful. If another man were to do a certain thing,he would be very wrong-but if he does it, he, being a specially chosen one, is in a condition in which it is not reckonedto be sin or is not laid to his charge. Well, Beloved, I can only say that when I have read certain caricatures of this doctrine-andit is most natural that ungodly men should make fun of it-I have thought that the caricature was richly deserved and thatany contempt that could be poured upon such atrocious lies was well merited! Sin in a Christian is quite as much sin as itis in anybody else! Indeed, it is a great deal more sinful, for never does a black stain seem so black as when it falls onspotlessly white linen-and never is sin as sinful as when it is committed by one who is greatly loved by the Lord and is thesubject of peculiar favor. May Antinomianism never mislead either you or me, Beloved!

The other way of perverting this Truth of God is to say that you do not sin at all-to stand up straight, like the Phariseein the temple, and say that you have attained such a condition that you do not now sin. If any of you, my dear Friends, arein that condition, the sooner you get out of it and humble yourselves before God for ever having dared to get into it, thebetter will it be for you! Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostle never meant that we were to reckon ourselves to be dead tosin in such a sense that we never sinned at all, or that sin did not affect us as it affected other people, because that isnot the truth! I appeal to every man who has a conscience and I trust that even the Believers in this super-fine holinesshave some trace of conscience left, so I appeal to them whether they are or not conscious of sin! My dear Brother or Sister,if you are not guilty of a single sin of commission-if you never utter an unkind or angry word- if you never speak unadvisedlywith your lips-if you never break one of the Ten Commandments in the letter by an overt act of sin-if there is never aboutyou any trace of pride, or covetousness, or wrath, or anything else that is wrong-can

you say that you are free from sins of omissionl Have you done all you should have done in as high and noble a spirit as youought to have displayed in it?

O my Brother, if this is your belief, you must be strangely different from what I have ever been able to be, for when I havedone my very best before God, I have always felt that my best was imperfect and marred by sin! I have had to mourn over manyomissions even when I have diligently labored to obey my Lord and Master perfectly. And in reviewing any one day of my life,I have never dared to congratulate myself upon it, but, with tears of repentance, I have had to confess that if I have noterred by overt sin, yet I have somewhere or other come short of the Glory of God. My dear Brother, do you really believe thatyour motives and the spirit in which you have acted have been perfect in God's sight? It is quite unaccountable to me. Ifyou look into your own heart and try to trace all your sacred motives, desires, imagination and all the tendencies of yournature-can you say that you do not sin against the Lord? Have you the same standard of holiness that we have? Surely you cannothave if you think you have attained it! If you have the same standard that we have, I am certain that you have not attainedit. The holiness that a Christian ought to aim at is to be absolutely as just, righteous and pure as God Himself is. Thisis the mark that He sets before us-"Be you holy, for I am holy." "Be you perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven isperfect." If you say that you have reached that perfection, I believe that if you let your conscience speak the truth, itwill tell you that you are under a great delusion and that you are utterly self-deceived upon that matter!

As to the notion that reckoning yourself to be perfect will help you to be so, I tell you flatly that it will most effectuallyprevent you from becoming perfect Reckon that you are sinful! Admit that sin far too often prevails over you and then go humblyto God and confess that it is so-and seek from Him Grace to keep you, day by day, from the power of reigning sin and you will,in that way, make a real advance in sanctification and true holiness! But if you reckon that you have reached this blessedcondition, you will never reach it. If you sit down in carnal security, you will rest in contentment with yourself, but youwill never be what I trust you really desire to be. Your experience will be like that of the artist who at last painted apicture with which he was perfectly satisfied and he then said to his wife, "I may as well break my pallet and throw awaymy brushes. I shall never be a great painter, now, for I have realized my ideal-I am perfectly satisfied with this picturethat I have produced." Far better is it for you to have a sacred dissatisfaction and hallowed discontent with all that youare! That forgetting of the things which are behind and reaching forth unto those that are before. That pressing forward towardthe mark for the prize of your high calling in Christ Jesus to which the Apostle urges you-that seeking to fight from dayto day with the temptations that surround you, not reckoning that you have won the victory yet, but believing that you willwin it though the blood of the Lamb-this is what we long to see in you-not to behold you sitting down in calm content andsaying, "It is all done. I am perfect." For, believe me, my Brothers and Sisters-or, if you do not believe me, you will findit to be true sooner or later-you are not perfect by a very long way, as the devil knows and as God knows, and as many peoplebeside yourself know who see what your daily life is and mark your conversation!

II. Now, having thus spoken concerning this great Truth of God and having shown you in what way we are dead unto sin and aliveunto God through our union to Christ, I want to point out to you THE GREAT PRACTICAL LESSON WHICH THE TEXT SETS BEFORE US."Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof."

This is the great fact that you are always to remember-you are now an altogether new man. In Christ Jesus you have died, beenburied and have risen again. Surely you will not now have anything to do with sin, will you? You must hate it, for it hasdone you such serious mischief. It was sin that slew you in the Person of your Substitute and Savior, but now you have beenborn-again and you are a new man in Christ Jesus. You are not going back to sin, are you? Oh, no, your whole soul abhors itand you now endeavor, from this time forward, to be entirely free from its dominion. You mourn that sin is still within youand that it still has great power over you. That power it will try to use and it aims at getting complete dominion over you.It seeks to make you again what you formerly were-its subject and its slaves.

You are told, in the text, not to let sin reign in your mortal body and this injunction implies that sin is already thereand that sin will seek to get dominion over you. Be not surprised, young converts, if you find sin to be terribly fierce withinyou and if, sometimes, it seems even to be stronger than Divine Grace! It is not really so, but it may sometimes appear toyou to be so. And rest assured of this-that sin in you is so strong that unless God the Holy Spirit shall help you, it willget the victory over you. It will fail to get the victory over you because God will help you, but if He did not, the smallestsoldier in the army of sin would be too strong for you, however powerful you may think yourself to be! Sin in a Believer cannever reign over him because he is dead to the reigning power of sin. O King Sin, I am no subject of yours! I was once, butI died and now I have risen again in Christ and I am no subject of yours. What, then, does sin do, if it cannot reign overthe Believer? It lurks inside the soul like an outlaw whose banishment has not yet taken place. John Bunyan's descriptionof the Holy War is a matter of true experience. After the Diabolonians were overthrown in Mansoul, many of them remained hiddenaway in dens and corners of the city. And although diligent search was made to find them, there were always some of them hidingaway in the back lanes and side streets where they could not easily be discovered. It is just so with sin. As a reigning king,sin is dead to you, and you to it, but, as a sneaking outlaw, sin is still lurking within your soul! It is plotting and planningto get back its former dominion over you and not merely plotting and planning, but it is also warring and fighting to thatend.

Oh, with what terrible force does sin sometimes assail a Believer! Just when he least expected it to come, some old lust reappears."Oh!" he cries, "I thought that evil passion would never again assail me." Perhaps when he is on his knees in prayer, a blasphemousthought is suddenly injected into his mind-and when he is engaged in his business, endeavoring to provide things honest inthe sight of all men-he finds a temptation to do something which is unjust, put in his way, and though, at first, it seemsas if he would consent to it, yet, by the Grace of God, he is enabled to get the victory over it. The very best man in theworld, if he were left by Divine Grace only for five minutes, might become and probably would become the worst man in theworld! Left to himself, impetuous Peter begins cursing and swearing and thrice denies his Master. This vile outlaw, sin, thatis always fighting within us, will be king if it can. It will rally all the forces of the world against us! It will call thedevil himself to its assistance and so seek to get the reigning power again-but it never can, for we are not its subjects,we are not under its dominion and we never will be! The almighty God who has redeemed us from going down into the Pit willnever suffer us to again be the slave of sin, yet we are to constantly be on the watch against its attacks.

The text also implies that the point of assault of sin upon you will be your body-"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortalbody." It is generally through our body that sin tries to bring our soul into captivity. There are natural needs of the bodywhich must be attended to, but every one of these needs may become a sinful craving and we may so excessively minister tothe need that, by-and-by, it becomes sinful lusting! That a man should eat to appease his hunger is right, but, alas, gluttonyoften follows. That a man should drink to quench his thirst is right, but there are divers drinks which lead to drunkennessand so, even through two such perfectly justifiable natural needs as eating and drinking, sin may come in. There are a greatmany other needs, emotions and passions of the body which are, in themselves, properly considered not sinful-but every oneof them may readily be made into a door through which sin can enter! No, it is not only the needs of the body, but also thepleasures of the body which may lead to sin. There are bodily enjoyments which are perfectly innocent-but it is very easyto pass beyond that line and to indulge the flesh with that which is evil. Even the pains of the body may become the meansof attack upon the soul, for great pain will often bring depression of spirit and despondency-and through despondency comesdoubt. Yes, and pain sometimes causes murmuring, and murmuring is really rebellion against God! This poor flesh seems to bethe battlefield in which the fight with sin is continually to be carried on. Sin makes frequent incursions into the regionof mind and spirit, but it generally begins with the body. How strenuously, therefore, must we see to it that we obey theApostolic injunction, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof," butrather let us yield these, our members, to be the instruments of righteousness and purity! Watch and pray, Beloved. Do notimagine that the stern battle is over, it is only just begun. As long as you are in this mortal state, you are to put on thewhole armor of God and to strive, agonize and wrestle against sin in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ who will helpyou by His ever-blessed Spirit. But to suppose that the battle for purity is over is to suppose a lie which will seriouslyendanger the sanctity of your lives.

The Apostle uses one word which is very comforting to my mind-"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body." I am veryglad to read that word, "mortal." If this body were immortal with its present tendencies, then might it continue to be a fieldof battle for the Believer forever! But it is mortal and when it dies, then shall its tendencies, which now incline us tosin, also die. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God," for flesh and blood always will have a tendency towardsthat which is evil. But, Brothers and Sisters, we are going to have this flesh and blood behind us

when we die. We shall be re-united to our body after it has been refined, for the grave is the refining pot for it, but, untilwe die, this body will be the nest of sin-and within our flesh, as Paul truly says-"there dwells no good thing." Through beingcumbered with this flesh, many a true child of God will, perhaps, have to cry even upon his dying bed, "O wretched man thatI am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Thank God, then, that it is a mortal body in which this warfare iswaged, so that when it dies, the fight is over and the emancipated spirit shall then rejoice in the fullness of the Gloryof God, but not till then. Neither need you expect it for if you do you will be grievously disappointed when you find thatyou have been buoyed up with a false hope based upon self-conceit-and not upon the work of the Spirit of God at all.

The pith of the matter lies here, Brethren. Reckon yourselves to be dead unto sin because, in Christ Jesus, you died untosin and let that Truth of God strengthen you to fight sin. As long as you have any question about whether God counts you amongthe guilty, you will never have courage to contend with sin. Evangelical Doctrine is the battle-axe and the other weaponsof war with which the Believer is to fight against sin. That I am saved-that I am fully absolved from guilt-that I am accountedjust in the sight of God-that I am saved to all eternity-this is a firm foundation for me to stand upon! And now, relyingupon the power of God's Grace, I may confidently say, "Sin shall not have dominion over me because of this amazing mercy whichI have received. Because of this high calling to which God's Infinite Love has called me, I will cast down every sin thatdares to lift itself up. I will take by the throat everything that is hostile to God and I will labor to perfect holinessin the fear of God." Tell the sinner that he must do this and that and he is conscious of his lack of power and, therefore,he does nothing. But go to him, God-sent in the power of the Holy Spirit and say to him, "Your sin was laid on Jesus, so youare free from it, for Jesus bore its penalty. You are saved, for in Him you have virtually died and the Law cannot now touchyou-you are a dead man as far as it is concerned. Sin cannot accuse you, for you are dead to it"-and what does the man say?Why, with great surprise in his soul, he is yet enabled to believe it and he sees, as it were, the mountains cast down, thevalleys filled up, a pathway made in the desert for God to come to his soul and for him to come to his God! And in the joyof pardon freely given through his Savior's precious blood, in the bliss of salvation graciously bestowed without money andwithout price, he shakes himself from the dust, arises from his former love of sin and says, "Now, Sin, I am dead to you andI will never permit you to be king over me! I am no longer under your dominion and I will drive you out of my being altogether.You will not reign over me. I will, by the power and Grace of Him who has bought me with His blood, live to the praise andglory of God alone."

Now, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, most earnestly do I desire that you may so live that you will never doubt your eternalunion with Christ and your consequent perfect acceptance with God. I pray that you may exercise an unstaggering faith in thefinished work of Christ culminated on Calvary's Cross and then I say to you, "Think what manner of persons you ought to bein all holy conversation and godliness." Never tolerate any sin in yourselves! Never wink at it, or imagine that it is lessin you than it would be in others. Grieve over every shortcoming, every failure, everything that is not according to the perfectrule of righteousness and watch every day, and every hour of the day, calling on the aid of Divine strength that you may beenabled to watch and believe, at the same time, that that strength will be given to you, for the promise to you is, "Sin shallnot have dominion over you: for you are not under the Law, but under Grace." This will make sure work for holiness! You willnot be puffed up, but you will be built up. You will not go bragging about how holy you are, your own mouth condemning youall the while, but, in silence before the Lord, you will sit down to admire the Grace which has looked in love upon such apoor unworthy worm as you are.

While you will seek to do that which is right and will hate every false way, you will, at the same time, take your place withthe publican in the Temple and cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner." Seek to be as holy as the angels, yet be, all the while,as humble as the publican! Remember that it is Divine Grace which has made you what you are and that it is Grace which mustkeep you faithful to the end. If Grace did not keep you, you would be a castaway! But you shall not be a castaway, for, "Beloved,we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak." I pray that every memberof this Church and of Christ's Church at large, may be very careful in his living, very watchful, very devout, very earnest.O professing Christians, you are not what you should be! A great many of you seem to forget altogether the sacred obligationsof the love which has been from eternity fixed upon you. Confess this sin, mourn over it and seek the power of Christ to helpyou against it-and henceforth may your course be as "the shining light, which shines more and more unto the perfect day."

I fancy that I hear somebody in the congregation say, "These godly people seem to have a hard fight of it." They do. It isnot easy work to get to Heaven, even by Grace, for, though we are saved, yet it is a pilgrimage to Heaven and a stern fightall the way.

What we have to say to unconverted people is this, "If the righteous scarcely"-or, with difficulty-"are saved, where shallthe ungodly and the sinner appear?" If he who zealously desires to follow after holiness has such a stern fight for it, whatmust be the end of the man or woman who never denies himself but indulges his sinful passions and casts the reins upon theneck of his lusts? O Christian, yours is the lot of a soldier and you have to "endure hardness as a good soldier of JesusChrist"-but you are comforted because, by faith, you can see the crown of life which fades not away, and which is reservedin Heaven for you and, therefore, you keep on contending! But as for you who never fight against sin and who feel no agonywithin, it is very evident why you have no inward struggle-it is because your whole nature goes one way! Dead fish float withthe stream-it is the live fish that swim against it-and if you never feel any inward contention and striving-if you neverhave to cry, "To will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not"-if you never groan under a senseof sin, I close my sermon by saying that I pray God that you may do so, soon, and that your groans may be uttered at the footof His Cross, who will look down upon you as you lie there in utter weakness and misery, and who will say to you, "I haveblotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions and, as a cloud, your sins: return unto Me, for I have redeemed them."

May we all learn that Christ is everything and that we are nothing! That He is holiness and that we are unholiness! And maythe Lord give us the Grace to be found in Him, not having our own righteousness, which is of the Law, but the righteousnesswhich is of God by faith! Amen.

-Adapted from The C. H. Spurgeon Collection, Version 1.0, Ages Software, 1.800.297.4307